I have been making this Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce every holiday season, for many years now. I like to make this before or after Christmas and keep it stocked in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner. This deliciously rich and meaty pasta keeps me going throughout the busy holiday season. All the baking and cooking burns a lot of calories! (Or, at least I’d like to thinks so…). This dish is definitely an indulgence, which is why I only make it for special occasions.
I like to use rigatoni for this recipe because this type of pasta soaks up a lot of sauce, so you can really pile on the bolognese! Packed with five types of meat, this recipe is dedicated to the carnivore lover. Cooking the sweet Italian sausage in the rendered pancetta fat is simply divine, and is the heavenly base for this sauce. Resist the urge to snack on all the crispy bits while cooking this recipe! The sweetness from the balsamic, sausage, nutmeg and fennel helps to balance out the salty meats. I really love adding balsamic vinegar to this dish, because the acidity adds another level of richness to the sauce.
I also like to the opportunity to use homemade ingredients when I make this recipe. Earlier this year I canned tomatoes for the first time. I love to use them in sauces and they taste so much better than store bought ones. Fresh tomatoes are really the key to a tasty, light sauce. I also started to make my own stock in my slow cooker after reading a lot about the health benefits of bone broth. Making your own stock is so easy and I freeze them in 250 ml freezer containers for easy use.
When I need to refuel over the holidays, I rely on this protein packed pasta dish. This Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce is sinfully delicious and is packed full of salty meats balanced with a bit of sweetness. Another rich indulgence for the holiday season!
Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce
- sea salt
- 1 pound 500g rigatoni
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 pound pancetta diced
- 2 sweet Italian sausages links split open, casing removed
- 1/3 pound ground pork
- 1/3 pound lean ground beef
- 1/3 pound ground veal
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- coarse black pepper
- 2 medium carrot peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 a fennel bulb peeled and finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup beef stock*
- 1 quart canned tomatoes*
- 5 tablespoons or half a 156ml can tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- red pepper flakes
- 1/4 good balsamic vinegar*
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water to taste and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot to keep warm. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together.
While the pasta cooks, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil.
Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, and the sausage to the other. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and toss together for another minute.
Remove sausage and pancetta with a slotted spoon. Add the pork, beef and veal. Brown and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Add the carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes until soft.
Add sausage and pancetta back to the pan. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up all the good bits with a wooden spoon.
Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes into smaller pieces.
Add tomato paste, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes to taste.
Simmer over medium low heat until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes.
Finish with balsamic vinegar, and check seasoning. Simmer for a few minutes more.
Divide pasta into four large bowls and generously top with sauce. Mix the sauce with the pasta to coat evenly.
Top with freshly ground pepper, parsely and parmesan cheese.
*I use my own homemade beef broth
*or one 28 ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes. I can my own tomatoes so I use the whole quart. I like my sauce on the chunky side so I find the whole tomatoes break down in the sauce and there's no need to dice them, but with your preference!
*the thicker (more expensive) balsamic vinegar, the richer your sauce will be!